Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Midday blog: Non-Resolutions

It’s that time of year where most people need to do a reality check… when you know you’re on the good path to following through on that “New Year’s resolution” or that you realize it ain’t gonna happen.

Statistics say that 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually follow through and achieve their goal. Am I a part of that statistic? Yes… and no.

In 2013, I decided I wanted to avoid eating at a particular fast food establishment. Though opinions will vary, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this restaurant – but I know that I would abuse (and have abused) my choice in what I eat there.

I didn’t make a deliberate decision on December 31 or January 1. But, by late January, I realized I hadn’t made the almost-routine visit to that drive-thru, so I thought I’d see if I could avoid it for a longer period of time. By summertime, I had felt good about my achievement so far – and it seemed to be an easy task.

In the fall, I had no cravings for my favorite sandwich. And by winter, I was excited to be close to the finish.

I visited my brother and sister-in-law who live near the eastern coast over the holidays. We talked about this unlabeled goal – this non-resolution – that I never really thought about as a big deal. I didn’t put up motivating Post-it notes. I didn’t tick off days on a calendar. I didn’t set up any milestones to achieve. But we did discuss if a celebration was in order.

And on January 1, 2014, we treated the whole family to one lunch meal at this place. I got to eat my favorite sandwich. We all had some a share of the unbeatable french fries. The kids got a taste of the little nuggets of chicken. It was a good day.

It’s now about a month into this year, and I haven’t had a hankering for it since then.

It was one “small” goal. Sure, I ate at other fast food joints, but on a rare occasion. Am I any healthier because of this? Maybe, maybe not. But I know I can set a goal that works into my everyday life and see how far I’ve come.

What’s next? I’ve always wanted to read through the Bible in a year. I want to write a new song, maybe one a month. I want to get back to the gym. I don’t have to wait until next January 1. I can start now… and work it into my everyday routine.

Is there anything you’ve wanted to do – and just need to quit thinking about it and do it?

Mark BretaMark Breta is a radio producer/announcer, musician and foodie. He has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection and Treasured Truth. He has led worship at conferences and events, and more recently, at Chicago area churches in Arlington Heights and Oak Park. His now once-a-year craving is the double cheeseburger. You can follow Mark at his website.

Guest blog: 10 Ways YOU Can Fight Human Trafficking

This week, we’ve decided to bring you a guest post from Marla Taviano.  This is a portion of her entire post, which you can read here:  http://www.marlataviano.com/cambodia/10-ways-you-can-fight-human-trafficking/


Today I want to share 10 Action Steps you can take to help fight human trafficking.

And it’s perfectly okay (and awesome) to just choose ONE of them right now.

Just one. You can totally do this. Like a guy named Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

You don’t have to do everything, all the things. You don’t even have to do most of the things. Just start with one thing. One.

But whatever you do, refuse to do nothing.

You ready? Here we go!

10 Simple Action Steps to Fight Human Trafficking:

1. Pray. Yes, prayer is an action step. And, by far, the most important one. You can pray for victims, for law enforcement, for rescuers, for the men who buy children for sex (this is a tough one), for wisdom about how you can help, for God to intervene. And if you don’t know what to pray, this wonderful booklet is a great place to start. (And here’s a really helpful list of things to pray.)

2. Donate $10 to The Hard Places Community. We spent a month with this organizationin Cambodia two years ago and got to experience God working through them in the city of Phnom Penh. They (mostly Cambodians and a few Americans) are sharing the light of Jesus in a very dark place. ($10 is not a magic number. You can absolutely donate $5 or $6.50 or $100; just open that wallet and give something.)

3. Ask a friend to listen to today’s Midday Connection program and discuss it with you. This is not a fight we can fight alone. Having a friend get involved is such a blessing.

4. Watch (and share) this 5-minute video (IJM celebrates 15 years of Justice). IJM (International Justice Mission) is one of the best organizations out there, working with local law enforcement to free modern-day slaves around the globe.

5. Watch The Dark Side of Chocolate. And commit to buying Fair Trade chocolate. (Here’sa good post from my friend, Tsh, to get you started.)

6. Read We Dream of Cambodia: A Family Leaves Their Hearts on the Other Side of the Globe. This is an e-book I just released two weeks ago about our family’s trip to Cambodia. It’s available on Amazon, or I’d be happy to send you a free PDF if you just shoot me an e-mail here.

7. Get a few friends together in your city/town/neighborhood on April 6 and Walk Against Traffick for 10 miles. I’ll be sharing more details soon. Here’s a link (and here’s another) to the events we’ve done in the past.

8. Make something (a piece of jewelry/a scarf/a batch of chocolate chip cookies/a set of note cards/an ornament) or find something “valuable” around your house (books/picture frames/necklace/Pampered Chef stuff you never use/etc) and sell it on Facebook and give the money to an organization fighting human trafficking. Like this one. Or this one. Orthis one. (My girls have started their own “business” called The Dancing Elephant, and they give all their proceeds to Cambodia.)

9. Buy a t-shirt from an organization like She Has a Name and wear it every time it’s clean. Great conversation starter.

10. Pray. I know I already used that one, but it’s super-duper important. Super. Duper.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Did one of those 10 catch your eye? Watch a video? Read a free e-book? A t-shirt? Sell something?

I’d love to hear from you. Either:

1. Which # you decided to go for.

2. What you’d add to the list.

Marla TavianoMarla Taviano is an author and speaker. Her biggest passion is loving the poor, seeking justice, and sharing the hope of the gospel in her city and around the globe. Marla and her husband, Gabe, live in Columbus, Ohio and have three daughters.  For more information, please  visit her website  or follow her on  Twitter: @marlataviano

Midday blog: Having Some Fun

I’m a closet fan of the PBR. For those who aren’t familiar, that stands for Professional Bull Riding. I watch the competition on television when I can.anita cotton candy

I’m also someone who thinks having fun is for other people. Chalk that up to a poor view of God and of Christianity in general, or eating too much spinach as a kid. For a change, I gave in and decided to have some fun, thanks to my husband.

I just attended one of the tour stops for the PBR in Chicago this past weekend. This seemed to surprise a lot of people. Probably because I’m the farthest thing from a boot wearing, hat wearing, gun toting cowboy there is. But my husband bought tickets to the event as a Christmas present for me, and the closer the date came, the more excited I got. And the good part, I didn’t stuff that excitement, I let it see the light of day.

Where did this love of Bull Riding come from? When I was in grade school, my father took our family to the Cowtown Rodeo a couple of times. I loved it! Everything about it! I guess I was amazed at the skill of the cowboys and cowgirls. The precision of roping steers and racing around barrels made me sit up and take notice. But when the bull riding took center stage, I was transfixed.

So all these years later, I decided, with the help of my husband to go enjoy myself. I experienced it all. I bought the program and even some cotton candy (personal guilty pleasure). I resisted saying no to the full experience, which I normally would have done. And the experience lived up to my expectations, something that rarely happens in life. I suspect because I was ‘all in’. I pressed into the fun experience my husband planned for me.

I’ll leave you to draw your own spiritual conclusions. There are many. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Anita Lustrea
Anita Lustrea is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and has worked for Moody Radio since 1984. She is a sought-after conference and retreat speaker and loves to connect with Midday Connection listeners face-to-face. Anita lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and her son, John. To learn more about Anita, her speaking schedule and her blog, please visit her website.

Midday blog: “My husband is my everything” kind of living

Have you found yourself living into a belief system in your everyday life that looks like this: my husband should fulfill all of my needs and desires?
These feelings can contribute to making husbands the recipient of eventual disappointment, confusion and even disdain that is often covered up in our Christian communities. After all, when our husband doesn’t measure up to becoming the same kind of “head of the home” that another woman’s husband appears to be, we can often feel utterly left out, our marriage less-than, even believing our husband is a failure.
Personally, I never married with the expectation that my husband should “lead me.” After years as a self-sufficient career woman, and a sensibility that told me I was responsible for my own spiritual growth, it didn’t make sense to turn over the reins to somebody else. I had as my model for marriage my parents’ own strong one, where both operated as individuals who came together around disparity in loving communion, negotiation and prayer.
However, I did enter into marriage with the expectation that my new husband would fill those empty places inside my soul as I looked for security, adoration, natural spiritual unity, lack of marital conflict and the “shoulds” of a perfect Christian marriage that I’d been taught in church, on Christian radio, in women’s Bible studies and in Christian books. If you can relate to the dis-ease that sort of thinking brings to your life, you may appreciate this piece from Alexandra  Kuykendall called “Expecting a ‘You Complete Me’ Kind of Marriage”. Click on the link below to learn how she navigated the choppy waters of a “my husband is my everything” kind of life.

Melinda Schmidt

Melinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life”-long learner. Twitter: @melindaschmidt

Guest blog: In Praise of Large (and Small) Families

It’s one of those cases where both sides are completely wrong.

In one corner, you’ve got Christians who proclaim that large families are the Christian ideal. They argue that the more kids you have, the more spiritual you are. As a result, they frown upon small families. They carry an air of self-righteous superiority as they pull their 12 passenger vans into the church parking lot.In the other corner are Christians who scoff at large families. They decry the financial irresponsibility of having more than two children, citing the need for massive college funds, new cars and annual trips to Disneyland. They roll their eyes at those weird people pulling 12 passenger vans into the church parking lot. I know. My examples are a bit melodramatic. But you get the point.

Full disclosure – My fifth child is due early this year, and I own a 12 passenger van. That makes me no better or worse than you. Instead, I’m convinced that large family advocates and large family scoffers are ultimately flawed in their thinking.

In spite of their errors, each side has some valid points. For example, the Bible clearly states that children are a blessing. Proponents of large families rightly remind us that children are one of the only Biblical blessings that people willfully reject. You don’t often hear prayers for less health or financial stability. So why dramatically limit what God calls a blessing?

At the same time, large family fanatics all too often callously forget the pain of infertility. In their zeal, they send a hurtful message to those God has clearly called not to have a large family. That’s why numbers aren’t the issue.  
God’s calling is the issue.
It’s common to hear someone desperately pleading for God’s calling for their career path. We quickly yield to His plans for our relationships and our ministry work. But I’ve rarely encountered followers of Jesus who bother to consult God when determining how many children to have. Instead, many turn inward for this major life decision.
I’m not aware of any Biblical equation for determining how many kids to have. So where do you start when seeking God’s intentions for your family size? Here’s a few questions to consider that have been helpful for me:
  • What are your motives for preventing more kids in your family? The Bible doesn’t have a directive regarding family size. So, we’re forced to closely examine our motives. Can your reasons for not having any more kids be supported by Scripture? Are you guided by selfishness, or by Godly thinking?
  • What physiological messages have you received? A few friends of mine have one child. It’s not that they don’t want more kids. They simply can’t have more kids. And they praise God for His clear answer regarding their family size. On the other hand, some women experience severe physical or emotional distress after multiple pregnancies. These complications may make it unwise and unhealthy to have more children. Either way, take time to consider what God may be telling you through your emotional and physiological realities.
  • Where is your heart regarding your finances? American culture can easily corrupt Godly thinking about money. Society tells us that we deserve the newest and best of everything. Sadly, this message creeps into our thinking about having kids. Many believers cite finances as the primary motive for not having any more kids. But is that what God really has in mind for us? Be sure to prayerfully reflect upon what He says about the love of money, and the storing-up of treasures on earth.
  • Are your “can’ts” really “won’ts”? I’m not a fan of the contraction “can’t”. Why? Because it’s seldom accurately applied. I do this all the time in my own life. I’ll say, “Honey, I can’t take out the trash right now”. What I really mean is that I won’t take out the trash now. Carefully evaluate all of your “can’ts” when thinking about not having any more kids. Meanwhile, don’t forget that responding to God’s call isn’t necessarily going to be easy. In fact, Biblical precedent would indicate that it’s usually pretty challenging. How is God convicting your heart about your true “can’ts” and “won’ts”?
  • Are you unintentionally limiting God’s ability to provide for you? Faith is often the act of doing the right thing with confidence, even in the face of an uncertain outcome. Do you feel called to have more kids, but are afraid of the logistics? Is money a concern? Be careful not to limit God’s divine ability to provide you with everything you need to answer His calling. Not all that you may want, but all that you need.
Please don’t read into my questions looking for implied answers. There aren’t any. I’m simply sharing my conviction that we should seek God’s divine direction when deciding how many children to have. In the end, if you’re upset by some of my inquiries, perhaps it’s because you’re uncomfortable with your answers.

Brian DahlenBrian Dahlen is a broadcaster, teacher and musician who loves to talk and appreciates the value of sarcasm and bad jokes. He blogs about faith, life, radio and race at  briandahlen.com. He and his wife Sara have four kids and live on the South Side of Chicago.

Brian Dahlen was a part of the Millrose Club on December 13, 2013, where we talked about this topic.  You can listen to that program on our website. 

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